• This is Not Good: “Dangerous, Rapidly Intensifying Harvey Expected to be a Major Hurricane.” Stay safe, Gulf Coast. Take care.
This is particularly worrisome now that we have an administration that might make us long for the Golden Age of “Heckuva job, Brownie.” Plus, Pat Robertson is still recovering from falling off a horse, so he’s probably not able to use his miracle powers to pray this hurricane out to sea. This means that our spiritual leaders — the various tele-prophets and radio apostles — will have to fall back to Plan B, focusing their energy on discerning precisely which marginalized groups sinned to incur this divine punishment. Oddly, even though most hurricanes tend to strike in the states of the former Confederacy, white supremacy never seems to make their list of sins to blame for natural disasters.
The awful theology and enthusiastically bad “spiritual discernment” of this sectarian meteorology is ripe for comedy, but this is as close as I could manage:
• Speaking of spiritual charlatans, Rick Joyner is a right-wing entrepreneur and pastor with a long history of punching down and peddling outrageous falsehoods. This week, for example, Joyner said that “we had just about dealt with racism in America” but this post-racial utopia was ruined by a race-baiting President Obama who “threw fuel on the fire of racism.”
That was too much for Joyner’s own daughter, who posted a heartfelt video on Facebook renouncing her father’s views and apologizing for the harm he is causing.• “An Oral History of Battle of the Network Stars.” They’re attempting to reboot and resurrect this classic bit of 1970s-’80s schlock TV, so let me again plead, instead, for the return of The Love Boat.
Seriously. It was an elegantly structured show. Plus character actors and C-listers need the work.
• Since we seem to be in the market for new statue-worthy heroes, let me recommend Benjamin Lay: “The ‘Quaker Comet’ Was the Greatest Abolitionist You’ve Never Heard Of.”
Lay’s bleeding Bible stunt was a terrific bit of attention-getting theater. And I love the bluntness, if not the brevity, of the title he gave one pamphlet: “All Slave-Keepers That keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates Pretending to lay Claim to the Pure & Holy Christian Religion; of what Congregation so ever; but especially in their Ministers, by whose example the filthy Leprosy and Apostasy is spread far and near; it is a notorious Sin, which many of the true Friends of Christ, and his pure Truth, called Quakers, has been for many Years, and Still are concern’d to write and hear Testimony against; as a Practice so gross & hurtful to Religion, and destructive to Government, beyond what Words can set forth, or can be declared of Men or Angels, and yet live in by Ministers and Magistrates in America.”
Benjamin Lay lived from 1681 to 1759. Somehow a person like Lay is never described as “a man of his time.” And yet we’ll apply that description to his contemporaries — like, say, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) — to excuse them for being unable to know any better. Edwards was a man of his time. He was also a man of Benjamin Lay’s time, and of John Woolman’s.